The issue of spent and discarded needles arose recently at City Council, provoking pointed comments from Councillor Brian Skakun about who is left to deal with them.
“Northern Health, in my opinion, is giving out all these needles but they’re not demanding that they get returned,” he says. Instead, that burden and cost is borne by City staff and the taxpayers.
Northern Health says it gets an 86% return of the used needles. Fiann Crane with Northern Health says the idea of a needle-for-needle exchange was talked about early, but safety is paramount.
“It doesn’t meet best practices. What we want to make sure of is that anybody who is using drugs by injection has sufficient supplies to be able to use a separate, clean, and sterile needle for every single injection.”
In 2007, the City installed eight drop boxes around the downtown. In 2011, 197 needles were collected in those drop boxes. That number jumped to 894 last year.